Firey finish to speedboat action

January 13, 2023 BY

Burning up: Wendy Gielen was assisted during the emergency by partner Anthony Nardella and son Lachlan Bannan. Photos: STEVE WOMERSLEY

THE Eppalock Gold Cup had a different kind of drama than expected last weekend.

Moments after competing in the 1.6 litre Oz-Lite Hydroplane race, boat Miss Hydromania driven by Wendy Gielen burst into flames.

“I didn’t know it was on fire when I was coming in because I couldn’t see it; my mirrors don’t show the engine,” she said. “All I could hear was my partner screaming, ‘get out, get out, get out!’

“I was quite calm and managed to un-belt myself, took a look at the engine and what was going on.”

The fire was caused after the boat’s fuel line dropped off and fuel spilt onto the hot engine and exhaust. Only the engine bay was damaged.

“I was lucky it was the end of the race,” Gielen said. “I could have lost the whole boat.”

Gielen is in her first year of racing in a vessel named after her father’s boat, and said she loves the adrenaline rush.

“I’m nervous as hell, don’t get me wrong, but as soon as I hit the water, the nerves disappear, I’m concentrating on finishing the race and being competitive,” she said.

“I’m not expecting too much this year, but I’d like to show it to the boys, and encourage more female participation in the sport. We need more female racers.”